The Toronto Blue Jays are suffering from a dramatic shift in runs scored and surrendered
To start the 2018 season, our hometown Blue Jays were showing promise on both sides of the ball with a revamped offence and strengthened bullpen. They added the services of proven veterans like John Axford, Tyler Clippard and Seung Hwan Oh. They were brought in to help share the load with young hurlers like Roberto Osuna and Ryan Tepera.
They started the season strong and were showing cohesiveness and a bond that allowed them to come from behind in quite a few games early to get an early jump on the wildcard race. But, now things are beginning to change and all the ground they gained seems to have been lost at the same speed. Instead of stealing games they are blowing them; instead of piling on runs they are surrendering them; and instead of winning games, well, I think you can see where I am going with this.
Is it a matter of not scoring runs early, or not scoring enough late in games? Is it that they scored enough runs to mask the bullpens folly early in the season, or to make up for the inadequacy of the rotation early?
A couple interesting questions for sure, but what is the real answer. Well, look at this:
Through the first 5 innings so far in 2018, the Jays are averaging 2.47 runs. A stat that is truly average leaving them 13th in that category (Yankees are first with 3.51, more than a run more). Last year BTW, 2.48, so….to continue, in the month of April they were at 2.52, about .05 higher per game. That is not what we are talking about here, sure run support for starting a staff is great, and 2.48 is most certainly not run support. It is the runs after the 5th we are looking for…this season, Toronto is 8th with 2.08. Remember all those come from behind wins though, what happened there?
Well, let’s look back at the same comparison. In April, Toronto was first in the league with 2.67/gm scored after the 5th. You don’t have to be a math whiz to show what they are doing this month.
Now we can see what the offence is doing, what about that bullpen blow up?
We are allowing 4.63 runs against per game thus far. Just looking at that, you can see a deficit without looking any further as we only average 2.08 + 2.47 = oops, – .08 deficit. Again though, why? (Oh, forgot to mention, those runs against were earned, total runs were 4.98…that deficit just jumped to .45)
Is it starting pitching, or bullpen, or hitting, or D, all of the above?
Let me give it to you straight. Through the first 5 innings this year, 3.12 runs against per game. Yuck! That gruesome number leaves only 3 teams behind them: the Royals, White Sox and Orioles…and we all know where they stand. In the first month though, the Blue Jays were all the way up in 18th with 2.70, about ½ better. Okay, now look at the last half. Toronto sits a decent 14th in the league, with a 1.82 runs allowed per last half of game to this point in the season. Through April, they were 1.56 though… a .26 runs better out of the bullpen (or at least in the last ½ of games).
Back to our math lesson: .26 runs worse in last half of games this month; .42 runs worse in first halves this month against; .05 fewer runs scored in the beginning and .59 less after the 5th. How does that add up. I am sure my grade school daughter could even see that a difference of 1.32 runs FEWER per game is not a good thing. This is an all around problem that has left John Gibbons hopefully looking for answers. It seems he has made an effort to play the hot hands and bring up some early season hot bats in Hernandez, Alford, Smith Jr. and Gurriel. But now we have lost Roberto Osuna and it has forced our best setup man into a closing role and a couple bridge pitchers sharing the load of setup men. That, and adding a couple young arms from Buffalo for a change of pace.
Regardless, whatever is going on is not working and we need about 1.5 runs more per game to start making ground in the AL East. It seems like a lot, but remember how we got to this deficit, we were making up that difference in April and we were doing just fine. This is a collective effort, or lack thereof, and it needs to change. Clearly, we cannot solely blame the bats, the arms or the bench or the relief. Like in any business, if it is one department failing, we can fix that department; if it is all the departments failing, well it may be a management problem.
Maybe there is a lack of leadership from Gibby, maybe he has lost his ability to motivate this club, or maybe he is just having a bad month…a really bad month. Either way, something has to change. We have added relief pitchers and we have changed bats, both, unsuccessful. Maybe now, to save this season before it is too late, there is another change we need to make. I am not calling for Gibby’s job, but sooner or later we need to look past the players. There are some valuable tools in this tool box…learning to use them properly, is the key to success. BW
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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